Remember your teenage years? It seems to me that Junior High, which is today’s Middle School, was where it really became clear. There were the cool kids, the in-crowd, and there were the rest of us. Most of us weren’t in the in-crowd. That’s part of the value of a clique: exclusivity. There were different forms of cliques. Some were for the athletic types, some for the nerds. Tough kids, surfers, hippies — all had their own groups with specific rules around dress, language, and behavior. They worked hard to stay in their group and to exclude others. Without excluding others there isn’t anything to feel special about.
Many of us didn’t meet the criteria. We weren’t good enough for whatever reason. We weren’t pretty, or thin enough. We weren’t smart enough—or were too smart. We didn’t have the right clothes. It hurt and made us feel ‘less than’.
This is not new for humans. We have been doing it forever. And the solution is in a very old fairy tale: ‘The Ugly Duckling’ written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1843. You all know the story, and the point was and remains to be — stop hanging out with ducks! Go where you are appreciated.
Now there is a particular reason I’m bringing this up. I’ve noticed over the years that many of my clients get Money tangled up in this ‘do I belong’ conundrum. It goes something like this:
- If I was rich I could fit in with the ‘in-crowd’
- I’m jealous and envious of those who have more than I do
- It’s not fair that I don’t have more money
- I messed up because I didn’t save when I was young, or get a degree, or…
- I feel like I’m always being judged as ‘less than’ others
Somehow we make up that it’s all about money. Money is the problem. It caused it. I don’t have it. On and on it goes. And here’s the rub. Yes, money may be a factor in this tangle, but not in the way people think. You may be tired of hearing it, and here it is again: “Money is reflective, not causative!” You made choices, some good, some not so good. And sad to say, you may still be stuck in those choices. Going over them and over them. Letting them consume you.
This idea of making it all about money is a giant distraction! It keeps you from living your life now. It has you trying to fit into places you likely won’t like when you get there. It’s the Duck/Swan thing again. I remember once putting an offer down on a house in a particular neighborhood. I had this weird thought in my head. It went like this: “If I lived in this neighborhood I’d have to put on make-up to get the mail!” I liked the house, the price was fine, yet it didn’t feel right. I was not going to be with my peeps if I lived there. Luckily there turned out to be a siding issue that had us not buy the house.
The thing that has you not be in with the ‘cool kids’ is not money—really! And if you keep thinking it is, and fussing with it around money, you will just keep spinning in circles.
The problem is that the real issue is harder to deal with. It’s what’s under the money stuff, and it’s likely about your own feelings of ‘worth’. It takes courage and fortitude to dig in there, but it’s well worth it.
I’ve recently been on my own journey around this tangle about ‘where do I fit’ and realized that I was hanging around with people who were not nice to me, and I was trying hard to get them to like me. Finally, I figured out that they just weren’t my peeps! I set some new boundaries and am hanging with swans instead! And there is a huge weight off my heart and soul. See, hanging around with other swans is easy. They laugh at your jokes, they like you, they respect you… you can be yourself.
Please give yourself the gift of hanging with your own particular in-crowd!
Shell Tain, the Untangler
Want some help getting out of this tangle? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.